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Screen Free Week

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TYLER (KYTX) - Did you know the average preschooler spends an average of 32 hours per week in front of a screen? Now through May 5 is "Screen Free Week."

The Campaign for Commercial Free Childhood is encouraging parents to ungrip their kids from the TV, computer, tablet and other electronic devices.

Pediatricians say kids under two years old actually shouldn't be getting any screen time at all. Children two and up should only be spending two hours or less each day in front of a screen. After that, experts say it's time to shut it off and get moving.

"This is time of year, things are beautiful in East Texas. And, we have so many wonderful parks and trails to go walk as families or bike, to go out to the state park- opportunities like that."

Dr. Valerie Smith is a pediatrician at St. Paul Children's Clinic in Tyler. She says too much screen time on the couch can pose major health risks in children.

"You're more likely to be overweight or obese if you spend a lot of time watching TV or in front of a screen."

Dr. Smith says visual over stimulation at a young age can also create attention and learning problems in the classroom.

"When they get in a slower-paced environment, like school, where the information is presented in a different way, sometimes they have trouble adjusting to that."

Rachel Salcido is a mother of two small children.

"I personally believe physical movement is good for your health in a lot of different ways. Exposure to the sun, Vitamin D- not long exposure of course."

That means tearing her kids away from the electronic devices.

"I get a little leery when he's been sitting there an hour. I get like- 'ah, you need to- let's stop for a while. Let's take a break.'" she says.

Her goal is to keep her children healthy- physically and mentally.

"When my kid's not watching TV, his imagination is going. He's finding some kind of kitchen thing or toy or Legos, and he's creating things. And, I enjoy seeing that out of my kid vs. him just sitting there like a zombie in front of the TV.

Dr. Smith says limiting screen time is going to be especially important as we head into summer and kids have more idle time. Dr. Smith recommends enrolling your children in team sports and summer camps to keep them moving.

Parents can also take part in screen-free week by staying away from the computer outside work hours.

Dr. Smith recommends making a list of 10 activities you can do with your family that involve at least some kind of exercise. You can cross them off throughout the summer.

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